Nothing less than a win will satisfy Palmerston North Marist football coach Simon Lees when they host Wellington side Tawa in the Central League at Memorial Park tomorrow, at 2.45pm.
Marist have three wins and a draw in the past five games and while Tawa sit near the bottom with two wins, they're never a side to be underestimated.
"We've got a couple of players out but it's a game we need to win," Lees said.
"We're starting to play to our potential now and if we want to be a force in this league we've got to win against sides like Tawa, especially at home."
Marist's defence has stepped up in recent weeks with Lees altering his formation to keep pressure on opposing defences, stopping them from being able to set up their attacks.
"We are about getting forward a lot quicker to support our striker Jerram [Tuck] and to keep our opponents pinned back in their own half."
It's clear that Jono Steele and Tyson Brandt are causing havoc in opposition defences with their movement and pace hard to contain.
"We've worked hard on utilising them as they're both [difficult] for opponents to keep marking tightly," Lees said.
With Tuck in great form near the top of the league's golden boot competition, Tawa is sure to try and mark him tightly, though they'll need to do a better job than what they've been doing, having conceded a massive 27 goals in just eight games.
With striker Tomas Mosquera still unavailable, Michael Sheridan, who had a good game last week and could be a strong target man, will again start up front.
Marist's defence has been impressive recently, based around the Milne brothers, Dominic in midfield and Fin in the centre of the defence both strong defenders, while Wade Randle has also been in top form.
Massey University coach Kyle Jensen said they set a goal of at least making the semifinal of the national women's knockout competition and tomorrow they'll be favoured to achieve that when they meet fellow women's Central League side Waterside Karori in Wellington.
Massey is again unbeaten and leading the Central League, but last year they were in the same position when tripped up by Seatoun.
"We set ourselves a few goals at the beginning of the season and at least making the semifinal of the cup was definitely one of them," Jensen said. "No game is easy at this stage and we're definitely not taking Waterside lightly."
Waterside narrowly beat another Palmerston North side, Valeron Wanderers, in a penalty shoot out in the last round when Waterside's goalkeeper Ronisa Lipi was the hero.
"We're aware Waterside have won quite a few games by the odd goal and that their keeper is outstanding," Jensen said.
"We'll need to make the most of our chances."
Massey has lost sweeper Jess Green, off on her honeymoon, but on the plus side, national under-17 player Karin Ingram returns from an injury that has kept her out for the last month.
Jensen has Siobahn Patterson out after dislocating her should at school this week and has classy midfielder Emily McColl and striker Rhonda Bridges under injury clouds. But back from injury is striker Jess Oulaghan.
In Federation League games, North End should be too strong for bottom-of-the-league Marist Reserves, while Palmerston North Boys' High School face the daunting trip to Wanganui Athletic.
Red Sox-Manawatu host Havelock North Wanderers and an impressive Feilding take on Team Taranaki at Timona Park in Feilding.
- Manawatu Standard
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